Friday, January 27, 2012

Swanlights

I can't remember, now, how Antony Hegarty and his ethereal yawping came to be a permanent fixture in my music collection. But it's there, on my succession of iPods, embedded in playlists, marked on my womanly heart. The band, Antony and The Johnsons, is sort of an outlier of my tastes, but some days it's the center of my music-soul and everything else shifts to make it the sun. Some days, I have ears for nothing else.

 I had a conversation the other day with someone about how kids can sniff out authenticity, and I think every once in a while, my music sensibilities do the same - Antony and the Johnsons melt like a lemon sorbet between courses, clearing the palate of distraction and chaff.

 In most of the articles and interviews I've read about Antony, the same few descriptors surface repeatedly: otherwordly, haunting, a gentle-giant, passionate spirit, environmental, transgender. For someone who so easily defies the constraints of simple categorization, it's kind of depressing that journalists continue to use the same restrictive language in discussing him, to make it easy to digest and understand him.
Well, I can pretty much say I don't understand him, and I love that. Never moreso than last night when, on my first trip to Radio City Music Hall (which is flooringly gorgeous, by the by) to see him and a 60 piece symphony perform Swanlights - "such an ambitious production!" replete with Nico Muhly arragements, lasers, a gem-like mobile, Ohne Titel muu muu costuming, a Beyonce cover ("Crazy in Love") and lasers. Did I mention the presence of LASERS? So much laser.
{Photo: HuffPo}
I regret to admit that halfway through the first few songs of the piece, I was trying to make Antony make sense to me. I was suddenly VERY interested in how he does his laundry. Does he have an in-house washer dryer? Does he dry clean the muu muus, or hand wash them? What day of the week does he do this laundry? Does he send it out? I so wanted him to be a real person, and not a 6'2" pillar of feminine power on stage in front of Bjork, and Tilda Swinton, and Rufus Wainwright, and Michael Stipe, and all the other New York art-elite. (Fairly positive that will be the last time I can say all of us were in the same building at the same time, ever).

And then I gave up, because a) I was distracted by the lasers and b) I wanted to let myself get lost in the art of it all, and just experience the questions the piece was asking.

 So I did, and it was really great. Just lovely, and inspiring, and magical and authentically weird. Very glad I got to be a part of that celebration, and hope to carry on a little bit of that with me.

Also, time to get myself some lasers. If intrigued, my fave interview of his is here.
I'm 37 now, and as you get older, you revisit the issues that sit with you in the course of your life. I always felt so self-conscious, and I didn't let myself be beautiful for so many years, but by the time you've made your face worthy of being looked at by anyone, you've abandoned yourself in the process. You show up with a pretty face and an empty heart. Life's too short to be slaving around to other people's expectations. We should put on a little make-up to honour the specific dignity that we have within ourselves, but I'm never putting a spot of make-up on for a man again
And, a slightly more accessible song that I lovity love McLoverson: